The Ontario Volleyball Association (OVA) Community Engagement Award is presented annually to an individual or team that makes a difference in their volleyball community through their volunteer activities. For 2022 this award is being presented to Leah Mousseau for her involvement with Sitting Volleyball.
Leah started her volleyball journey with Ottawa Mavericks first as a player and then as a volunteer and coach with their summer camps and program for other athletes her junior. She credits her parents for getting her into coaching and says, “I’ve always enjoyed giving back to the Maverick Club that made me the athlete I am”.
A decorated OUA athlete with Lakehead and Western Universities, she was selected to the OUA West All-Rookie team, the OUA West All-Star team as well as being 4-time Academic All Canadian. Leah’s academic pathway led her to a career in Occupational Therapy. An honours bachelors degree in psychology, a masters degree in kinesiology (integrative biosciences), and a masters degree in occupational therapy provides her with exceptional insight into removing barriers and facilitating ease of access. A combination of this and her volleyball coaching experience naturally led her to seek out athletes in the Parasport world.
Leah’s help with the Sitting Volleyball National Team throughout the pandemic lockdowns has been monumental. Dedicated high performance coaches for sitting volleyball athletes is very rare with athletes often restricted to training alone. Leah’s work at the Pan Am Centre in Toronto and helping with sitting tournaments like at the Ontario Parasport Games has helped grow the sport and allow these athletes to be all they can be.
Mousseau has been spearheading a project aimed at designing accessible equipment for sitting athletes. Everything that is used, ball carts, benches, net systems and drill equipment are often brought over from the non-sitting game, and most are not easily used by the para-athletes or have to be modified by the athlete themselves. With the help of some sitting athletes, she is designing para friendly equipment that is made specifically for sitting volleyball. “As an occupational therapist we work towards inclusivity and enabling participation and accessibility in everyday life,” said Mousseau. “For me this is really no different. The athletes deserve the proper equipment to play just as casually as anyone else.”
It is a testament to her attitude and humility that she was shocked with her nomination. In speaking with her one can tell that she doesn’t believe it is a special thing that she is doing but something that should have already been done to allow for these athletes the ease of sport that others enjoy.
She also had many people to thank, “I would like to thank my family and friends for their continuous support, more specifically I would really like to thank Darek Symonowicz and Nasif Chowdhury for being so patient with me throughout practices and really just supporting me on all fronts. I couldn’t have done this without them. Lastly, I would like to thank Kerish Maharaj (and Darek again) for nominating me. I am so humbled and so appreciative of this award.”
Leah is currently continuing her work with the sitting teams from a distance as she has recently moved to Ottawa but hopes to raise awareness and help build the sitting game in that city.
Congratulations on winning the 2022 Community Engagement Award!
2022 OVAtion Awards
The OVA will be recognizing and honouring individuals who have been making contributions to the growth and development of volleyball through the 2022 OVAtion Awards. Award winners in the Athlete and Service categories will be announced throughout July, digitally through the Ontario Volleyball website (ontariovolleyball.org) and across OVA social media channels.
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